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I've been listening to BLS since "Stronger Than Death" came out, and I've yet to hear another really, but REALLY good album from this band/side project. 1919 Eternal had its moments, as did Blessed Hellride, but factor in Mafia, Hangover Music, and now this...well, it's like one long never-ending song.
Zakk's patterns always remain. First song is a low-end bad-ass riff that always starts the album off strong. Track 3 is usually a stand-out, then Track 4 or 5 is always a slow ballad-ish song, only to have things pick up with the following track. Then around 3 tracks or so later, another piano-based ballad. It's a good formula. But it's been repeated on every single BLS release since "Stronger Than Death". Immediately, that gave me a negative impression of this album.
Another point is that BLS have never really evolved. Every song is still about how bad-ass Zakk is, drink booze, and crush the enemy. Granted, there is a strong religious influence on "Shot to Hell" (I'll let you decide if that's a good or bad thing) which differentiates it from the last few releases. But still, I never feel like his lyrics are extraordinary.
The music itself is dime-a-dozen Zakk riffs. They're heavy as hell, and he does more than enough squeals and phenomenal guitar work. But, once again, it's the same type of riff as on every single other BLS record. Nothing special, and sadly on this album, there isn't one riff that made me stop what I was doing to listen to it more closely. I'd have to say "Devil's Dime" is the most interesting song, because it sounds so different and fresh unlike anything else on this disc.
I should say also, the closing track was particularly good. Once again, nothing groundbreaking, but finally another real good slow song from Zakk. Essentially, this last track didn't feel forced.
Finally, his voice. Zakk had such a great voice on "Stronger Than Death", but has since adopted a new very nasal kind of vocal style; almost à la Ozzy. While it does have its qualities, over all, it falls flat for me. He does stay a little more in his lower range on this album. But sadly, I'm just not impressed.
I still have immense faith in BLS, and Zakk. Everytime a new record comes out, I always pick it up, hoping to be amazed yet again. But I'm at strike 5 now, and starting to wonder...